WEATHER FROM OUR SPONSORS
SHERIDAN — After nearly two years of negotiations with the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality to find a compromise on required forms of alternative power at 14 booster stations that provide water to outlying Sheridan Area Water Supply customers in the county, the SAWS joint powers board discussed Wednesday that the permit to construct was finally granted.
However, the DEQ permit included a requirement that each station be fitted with a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition radio monitoring system and that three portable generators that can be used for alternative power in the case of a failed booster station be purchased.
Tying these requirements to the permit caused the cost of the project to nearly double over the initial estimated cost of the booster station upgrades, SAWS Project Manager Dan Coughlin said.
Initially, the joint powers board was going to apply for a $770,000 loan from the State Loan and Investment Board through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund to complete the project. With the added requirements, the board voted 5-0 Wednesday to apply for a $1,370,000 loan.
“This is a vital part of the health and welfare of the SAWS system,” County Commissioner and SAWS board member Bob Rolston said, indicating he would vote for approval.
Other board members agreed the extra expense was worth it, even though it came as a bit of a slap in the face, as Rolston said.
Coughlin reminded the board that before the compromise, SAWS would have been required to install permanent generators at every booster station site, which would have required buying additional land and cost significantly more.
“We worked hard for this compromise,” Coughlin said.
Although the official cost estimate wasn’t received until Wednesday, Coughlin urged the board to approve the loan application so as to not delay the process. He noted that two booster stations already have pumps that are not operating as they should and require additional maintenance by city staff.
The SCADA system will enable radio signals to be sent to a monitor system to remotely indicate what might be wrong, preventing the need for staff to visit the station, determine the problem, retrieve the proper tools then return to fix the problem. It will save significant time and money, Coughlin said.
The application deadline for the SLIB loan is July 15, and the SLIB board will decide whether or not to award the loan Oct. 2. If the loan is awarded, the project will be let immediately with hopes of completing at least the required electrical upgrades and pump replacements by November 2014. The SCADA system can be installed at a later time, Coughlin said.
It is hoped a portion of the loan will be granted at 0 percent interest. The remainder of the 20-year loan will be at 2.5 percent. Since the loan is an addition to a previous loan that was given at 50 percent principal forgiveness, Coughlin said it is hoped the new loan will also include 25 or 50 percent principal forgiveness.
Coughlin said he doesn’t expect the increased upgrade cost to increase rates more than the already planned 2.25 percent increase included in the fiscal year 2015 financial plan. The budget will be adjusted and the financial plan updated for next year, at which time any rate changes will be considered.
In other business, Coughlin said the conventional upgrades at the Sheridan and Big Goose Water Treatment Plants were continuing on schedule with no changes to report.